I joined about a month ago, and even have posted a couple of times. I enjoy the forum and the diverse perspectives, but still feel a little reticent about posting financial specifics. Here's my general situation:
"Retired" from the USAF at 39 (that was a strange word to use at the time) with 20 years of service. That and Tricare were really windfalls to me, as I'd never given much thought to them until it was time to punch. Never been much of a career planner, done okay in spite of myself. Early on when I didn't know better, I did put a bit into one of those USPA&IRA things with the 5% load, forgot about it for a long time, but it eventually recovered the load and did okay.
Spent 3 years in academia, but never felt like their 401k was worth my time, for no specific reason. I don't even remember now if they offered a match. I hope you're getting the picture that early on I was pretty clueless about my future...
Then, spent 6 months with an internet company with a great idea, but unfortunate timing. Didn't quit, didn't get fired so to speak, they just stopped paying one day. DW calls that episode my midlife crisis. No retirement progress there.
And then the call of the DoD became too much to resist, so I went to work for one of the tier-1 contractors. I have both their DB pension and a 401k account to which I've been matching the company contribution. THAT is when I started to realize how fortunate I was regarding retirement, but that I did need to spend a little time making sure things were in the right places.
I've always felt that something like full retirement wasn't in my cards, did a lot of part-time teaching while in the AF, and thought that would be a great gig in my later years. Still thinking that may be the case, but I'm not warming to teaching on-line. I spent my last year at the full-time school gig as department chair. Had to staff 100+ sections every quarter; had a stable of folks who did certain courses, including some retired folk who would just come by once or twice a year to teach, then go off on some travel adventure with DW or such. I occasionally thought it would be good to be on that side of the relationship, and I may yet end up there.
Recently, I started to round up my retirement income sources to see where I sat. I built a spreadsheet with a graph, and it looked quite good. After reading up on retirement planning, I became aware that first understanding your expenses is important (ER.org crowd laughs uproariously here,
), so I inventoried our current expenses, plotted them with a 3% inflation rate against my income, and scared the crap out of myself. However, after I calmed down and realigned things a bit, things fell in line okay. That's as specific as I'm comfortable getting here...
The spreadsheet became a bit unwieldy, so I cobbled together a web application to plot the incomes, expenses, and distributions. It's not a FIRECalc by any stretch, it just plots lines for you to consider. If you'd like to play with it, you'll find it at Income/Expense Analyzer
I do intend to model my situation in FIRECalc; maybe after tax season...
Really, I could do my current job indefinitely. It's a position that capitalizes on my experience, providing independent assessment of situations; the best analogy I can conjur is the two old guys in the Muppet Show balcony, making snide remarks about the goings on
. Well, I try to be more constructive than that, but not much... It's a 40-minute walk to work. Travel is occasional, and short duration. And, most importantly, I Like It. So, I really don't have a RE date in mind, right now.
We've come to realize that FI to an extent is a relative thing, relative to your expenses. To that end, I've really made mileage considering Maslow's Hierarchy; if you aren't familiar, he laid out a hierarchy of human needs that range from survival to self-actualization, whatever that is. I've tailored his concept and arranged our expenses into "mandatory" and "discretionary" categories, with mandatory containing everything that allows us to wake up in the morning in a house, prepare and eat meals, get around town to support the meal thing (forage?), and surf the internet. Okay, the last one is not so mandatory, but its my list and I'm proud of it
. We lived our family-raising years somewhat frugally, so our FI was rather simple. Observing our parents, DW and I see there's a balance between saving to protect the future vice spending to enjoy life. But, you have to regard Maslow first and foremost...
I see the current national situation regarding employment and retirement as both a blessing and a curse. DB pensions sound like a good thing, until you find out that the company has mismanaged it into the ground for you. Conversely, DC plans give you control, but you have to understand how to twiddle the knobs, and I don't think we educate folks in K-12 well enough to do that. I personally feel comfortable enough with the latter, but my siblings and I were raised by a banker who taught us the importance of self-directed saving at any rate of return.
Anyway, that's my story and I'm sticking to it, for the time being at least. I'm enjoying the forum; I can read articles all day, but reading others' experiences has proven invaluable. Thanks...